We eat a lot of OK meals. But from time to time, we step out of our “budget” and go into our personal savings for dinner. This is more often than we should. The logic is along the lines of when will be here again? So we splurge; sometimes to great splendor, other times not so much. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to post some thoughts on really great restaurants that we’ve been very luck enough to enjoy around America.
We’ll start off way back in New Orleans. It was an early stop on our trip and we were really excited about it. New Orleans is one of the few places in America with it’s own rich culture of food. It’s just hard to find it (unless of course you’re interested in a very tourist-geared cuisine or poorly prepared beinets and poboys on frenchman street). We did however come upon a few great meals, one was a free(!!) dinner at Restaurant August (John Besh’s flagship). A delicious and decadent meal, the gnocchi with truffle was what I remember the most. But the other two places were the non fine dining gems that surprised and delighted, and their food had little to do with New Orleans except for their ingredients.
Around the corner from where we stayed (at the delightful Maison de Macarty B&B...), there was a wine bar called Bacchanal. This wine bar was not typical. You walk in the front door and it looks like the back room of a wine store — with boxes on the floor, and wine stacked in weird arrangements. You peruse amongst the stock, pick your bottle and are given a couple glasses. Oh yeah, and there is a fridge stocked with badass cheese — its plastic wrapped, but the cheeses are ripe and unique. They’ll plate them up for you, with some bread and olives and send you out back. And the back of the wine bar is equally as surprising as the front — a jazz band plays in the corner of a huge patio where random tables are scattered amongst palm trees, plastic chairs, park benches and picnic tables. It’s a mish-mosh of sit where you can and enjoy your wine and cheese. But there’s more: on the weekends, a visiting chef comes and cooks at the outdoor kitchen. Your food may be served on paper plates, but its stuff like shrimp with cucumber gazpacho, grilled sea bass with caramelized fennel, or crab and beet salad. All really delicious, even eaten with a plastic fork. And then of course it’s beautiful outside — the music is good, and above all it is laughably casual. No one cares about anything, except the food, wine and music.
This review is taking on more than I expected, I’ve never reviewed food before. Or I suppose this isn’t a review, its just declaring greatness. I don’t want to get into what food is shitty out there, Id rather focus on the positive. So the last place that was so excellent was our spot for doing work. With 100% humidity and way too many po-boys, we escaped to a hipster/anarchist/farmer joint called Satsuma. Beet juice with lemonade; Quinua and soy bean salad with New Orleans spinach; Killer coffee. Its a vegetarian’s dream come true. We only spent a week in New Orleans but we came back to this spot at least 4 times. Its the kind of place that every neighborhood needs.
Oh yeah – the shrimp boat from the episode was amazing food too — but I can’t tell you how to have that experience, you have to figure it out for yourself.